1. Prepare for Confession by Examining Your Conscience
Consider the question, “Since my last confession, what did I chose to do even though I knew that it was wrong?” To help you know your sins, ask the Holy Spirit to give you insight. Then, perhaps review your personal relationships (God, family, etc.), the Ten Commandments, or the Seven Deadly Sins. You may want to write a list for yourself to bring into the confessional, if that would make you feel more comfortable.
2. Begin Confession with a Sign of the Cross, saying, “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned”
Don’t worry. If you forget what to do, the priest will walk you through it.
3. Give the Priest Some Idea of how Long Ago Your Last Confession Was
Exact precision is not important here; it simply gives the priest some context.
4. Tell the Priest Your Sins
Confess what sins you committed and how many times (or with what frequency) you committed them. The most important thing is that you not intentionally withhold any serious sins. Avoid doing this and you’ll make a good confession. Let the priest know when you are finished.
5. Listen to the Priest’s Advice
Father will probably have some encouragement and advice to help you sin no more.
6. Make Note of Your Penance
The priest will give you a task (usually prayers) to perform to help repair the harms and brokenness that your sins have caused in yourself and the world. Though you can do your penance anytime after confession, sooner is probably better, so that you don’t forget.
7. Pray Your Act of Contrition
In essence, an Act of Contrition simply says, “Lord, I’m sorry for my sins. Please help me to sin no more.” You can pray this in your own words, or use a traditional Act of Contrition prayer like this one:
“O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you. I detest all my sins because of your just punishment, but most of all because they offend you, my God, who are all-good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin.”
8. Stay for Absolution
Listen to the priest’s Absolution prayer, which forgives your sins by the power of God through Jesus Christ.
9. Leave in Joy, with Your Sins Forgiven
How wonderful is that?!